Last post on May 24, 2013 at 7:58 AM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat, Mazda MAZDA6, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#17526 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [igozoomzoom]
Feb 17, 2013 (9:50 pm)
A lot of good insights here, igo. Thank you.
I'm in the market for a new midsizer right now and the three finalists for me are the Mazda 6, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. Each has its pluses and minuses... I would've also considered the Altima, but since "sporty" Nissan decided to nix the manual transmission option, I responded, in turn, by crossing them off my shopping list. And therein lies the rub. Within the last 5 years, the entire midsize class has become enemy territory for manual tranny drivers to shop in.
I had a chance to drive a 2014 Mazda 6 with a stick (my understanding is it's currently the only manual transmission 6 in the entire state of Minnesota) last week. All around it was a great ride. Not only is it stunning to look at (right on about Blue Reflex and Soul Red - Mazda presently has 2 of the nicest exterior colors in the midsize class), but the interior is excellent. My goodness, has anyone seen a new 6 with the 2-tone sand/black interior? It's absolutely gorgeous. And all the controls in the 6 are solid and easy to use. I felt immediately at home in the car. It seems like a car that would wear well - no gimmicks; just a solid driver's car that seemed day-to-day livable. That said, why no coolant temp gauge, Mazda? Oh well.
Contrast that with the Ford. Unfortunately, the 2013 Fusion I drove was a 6 speed slushbox (the closest manual was in Kansas City, MO - about 400 miles from Minneapolis) so it wasn't a dollars for dollars comparison, but it gave me some good takeaways regardless.
While I really like the looks of the Fusion too, Ford didn't seem to sweat all the details. First off, the 1.6 is freakin' LOUD. Maybe it's just that I had to have my foot to the floor in the thing the whole time to keep it moving in traffic, I don't know. But in all the reviews I've read, I never recall hearing a comment about engine noise. Anyone else notice this? Something tells me I'd be way off the mark with my MPGs too if I bought one of these tiny turbo Fords...
Also, while the non-MFT Fusion models have less fussy controls than the uplevel versions, the center stack is still a disaster: a mess of buttons that must be studied before a station can be changed; the AC vent output selected. Furthermore, the miniscule 4 inch radio display has to compete with a bunch of superfluous information (the instrument binnacle already has a tiny outside temp display - so why the redundant, tiny read-out in the stack?). What was Ford thinking? They build a very enjoyable [albeit school bus loud] driver's car (the Fusion's steering was super quick and the suspension/ride combo is about as good as it gets) and then throw in a bunch of ill-thought controls that constantly force you to take your eyes off the road. And seriously, whoever engineered that Futurama-style turn signal stalk needs to be forced into exile. It's like Ford tried to one-up VW with their lane change feature but failed miserably in its execution. Well, as these things start working their way into rental fleets and garages of the elderly, expect to see a lot of Fusions on the road with their turn signals engaged at all the wrong times (or perhaps never at all).
As far as the Accord, I've yet to drive one (it's next on the list) but I have high hopes. I must prematurely congratulate Honda though for designing a modern sedan that appears to have excellent visibility without looking like it was hit with the same ugly stick that really did a number on Toyota's Yaris.
So why consider a Fusion over a 6? If I was shopping for a slushbox, it would seem like the 6 would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, in Mazda's infinite wisdom, the 6 manual is available with absolutely zero factory installed options - no sunroof, no SiriusXM, no you-name-it. Granted, it already comes fairly well equipped (including dual exhaust), but I've seen Chevy Aveos with factory sunroofs (why, I don't know - but they exist). Mazda must think those who enjoy rowing their own gears hate sunshine and music.
The Ford manual, on the other hand, can be equipped with a number of a la carte options (kudos, Ford) including back-up sensors and a sunroof. Satellite radio is standard on the SE trim (as is Ford's still clever - for those of us who like to leave the keys in the car when heading into the theme park or out to the beach - touch pad entry). Too bad you're forced to order the Fusion stick shift sight unseen (or drive across the country for a test drive) if you're in the market for one. Apparently, no Ford dealers order manuals for their own inventory anymore.
All three cars are attractive in my eyes (w/top prize going to the 6). Mazda has the best color options in and out (although I do like Ford's Ginger Ale/Dune combo); Honda gives you various shades of mud as well as white and red (so long as you stick to the automatic - no pun intended). And I think it's safe to say that the Ford will have the worst resale (as it will very likely be in the shop most often) with the Honda being excellent and Mazda falling somewhere in between.
#17527 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [gogophers1]
Feb 17, 2013 (9:42 pm)
Guess if you want a Mazda6 with a manual and all the extras you need to see if you can import one from up here ( Canada). All models come with a manual as standard here. I guess they feel they are more likely to sell them that way here. It is a shame that you can't get them this way in the states.
#17528 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [gogophers1]
Feb 17, 2013 (9:50 pm)
I don't understand the issue with the turn stalk on the Fusion. As for dealers stocking manuals, don't blame them. For some unknown reason Ford only allows manuals to be ordered for retail customers not dealer stock. No idea why.
#17529 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [scwmcan]
Feb 17, 2013 (10:29 pm)
That sounds like a hassle and a half to me. At that rate, I will settle for a Fusion (and remain envious of our friendly neighbors to the north).
My hope - if my 3 year old, problem-riddled Focus doesn't completely implode in the meantime - is that Mazda will rejigger the options packaging on the trims when the diesel 6 arrives (not that I need an oil burner, but I would certainly consider one if they do hook it up to a manual transmission).
Mazda is making a mistake if they throw roadblocks in front of drivers demanding manuals. They could own that market with this car if they wanted to. Is it huge? Probably not. But a few thousand extra units out the door certainly seems possible. Why continue to cede the sub-40 segment to VW?
The same goes for any major manufacturer willing to put a midsize wagon on the road. Everyone fears cannibalizing their high-margin crossover sales w/wagons, but there is a market out there for them (before Subaru made its Outback uber ugly, I saw quite a few of them puttering about).
#17530 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [akirby]
Feb 17, 2013 (11:31 pm)
Well, that's a poor decision on Ford's part (why even sell them if they... don't want to sell them?). Interestingly, the last time I was in the market for a midsize car was in late April of 2008 and the Fusion was at the top of my list. Of the Ford dealers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, there were about 20 or so Fusions with manuals in inventory at the time (each dealer having 1 or 2). I finalized my decision on a Fusion after a Friday afternoon test drive, got bank financing on Saturday and by the time I got off work Monday afternoon, all 4 of the manual Fusion "finalists" I was considering (due to color, options, etc.) had been sold (e.g., I didn't want a white one with a camel interior and 18 inch wheels) - silly me for thinking Ford couldn't move that many midsize cars equipped with sticks in a single weekend. In retrospect, putting money down on that Moss Green beauty would've been a wise choice.
I ended up buying a Chevy HHR LT with a manual instead [and spent what seemed like half of the next two years of my life driving around in Chevrolet Malibu service loaners]. My God, have I made some car buying mistakes in my life...
#17531 of 18220 Re: Motorweek comparison test [backy]
Feb 17, 2013 (11:11 pm)
Base models had 98! And the top-end LX-i had 122. Somehow we managed.
yes, but the new car is significantly bigger and safer...which contributes to its 3300lbs; about 800 pounds more than the 88 accord.
Image the 88 accord with 98hp and 4) 200 lb people in it
#17532 of 18220 Re: Motorweek comparison test [benjaminh]
Feb 18, 2013 (3:52 am)
The C/D 0-60 test is suspect as far as I can tell no one else has been able to duplicate this result. I also take any review from this publication on a Honda product with suspicion as it is clearly biased towards Honda products.
#17533 of 18220 Optima blind spots.
Feb 18, 2013 (4:08 am)
The Optima blind spot (in fact all cars, except maybe a convertible with the top down, (even the Accord) has rear blind spots because of the C pillars) really is not a problem for me and for that matter any driver who properly adjust his or her side view mirrors and rear view mirror. Thus the Accord's better rear visibility really is no value to me and I would rather have a car with stunningly attractive styling that makes me happy when I looked at it.
#17534 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [gogophers1]
Feb 18, 2013 (4:23 am)
Right now Mazda only offers the manual in its lowest trim (Sport) but will soon be offering the manual with the better equipped Touring trim level. I have driven the Accord and overall I find the Mazda to be a better driver's car with more responsive handling and of course, there is really no contest when comparing the styling of the Mazda 6 to the bland Accord. If you have a chance you should also compare the fold down rear seats of the Accord to the superior Mazda 6 fold down seat. The Accord has a one piece fold down rear seat and to make matter worse the opening is small and rounded at the top corners making it even less useful. Whereas the Mazda is nice bigger rectangular opening and it is split 60/40 giving you the option of carrying a passenger. The Mazda also have a better rear trunk hinge design as it slides into housings on the top of the trunk shelf thereby avoiding any possibility of the hinges damaging any cargo in the trunk which could be damaged by the exposed hinges on the Accord.
#17535 of 18220 Re: Back to midsize sedans [gogophers1]
Feb 18, 2013 (6:05 am)
Man, it sounds like you want a drivers car with controls that make sense. At least give the Optima Turbo a shot. 274hp with regular unleaded and paddle shift is very satisfying. The dealer will work with you on price, and you can get one 5 miles away, not 500. The controls and center stack is totally intuitive. 100k warranty and killer looks to seal the deal. Fyi. Lastly, every car I owned with a manual required more repairs and less value when the time came to sell. I would love a manual car.... Parked right next to my sensible daily driver sedan.